Thursday, June 05, 2014

Comic Book Cows

I pulled a portfolio out of the garage over the weekend. I had an idea that maybe there were original AKIRA prints in it from the early nineties. Kodansha had instructed me to destroy them. Surely I hadn't done that? It seems so unlike me.

But I guess I did. All I found in the portfolio was two desk calendars, one from 1990 and one from 1992, a signed Moebius print, and a stack of original artwork of cows.

I can sort of see 27-year-old Marie's thought process on the AKIRA prints. "I can't destroy all this beautiful art! And yet I must...if I don't, I will be tempted to scan it all in and post it on Facebook in twenty years."

The cows were an inspired gimmick that took on their own life and became something incredible. A few guys at Marvel drew some cows for me. Then a few more drew cows. Then all kinds of people, some of them quite famous, drew cows.

I had them all on my wall until I "quit" in 1995. But that turned out to be the lamest quit ever. I was back in the office as a consultant on speciality projects within six months, alternating with staying home and coloring X-books. That went on and off until 2001, when I declared myself done with comics forever, and went off to travel around the world by bus and ship for a year (live on the Internet, of course).

Kevin Kobasic sent me this yesterday
My "done with comics" thing lasted exactly long enough to learn there were actually some lower-paying gigs than comic-book freelancer, and one of those was travel writer. Yes, I wrote some books, but I also started coloring for Gemstone and Marvel. So much for my grand departure from the medium.

You don't choose comics. Comics choose you. Before too long, I was combining my interest in travel with my interest in comic books. I suppose I'm the only former X-Men colorist and Akira editor who has also been EIC/creative director of a company based in Kuwait and, at the time, Cairo.

The cows did not go along with me to Kuwait, Cairo, or around the world in 2001, or on the repeat loop that took place a decade later in 2011. They have been in the portfolio since 1995, the first time I vowed to leave comics. I've since since edited prose novels at Marvel, written one myself even, written five ART OF books for Marvel, taught comic book coloring for seven years at SVA, and run Botfriend with Stuart Moore, where we've packaged some great comic books, including EGOs from Image, with my former student Gus Storms.

But I hadn't gotten a new cow in years, not until yesterday when Kevin Kobasic scribbled one out and sent it over. I'll have to add it to the wall, which has existed digitally since I sat down to learn HTML in 1997.

Here it is, in all its HTML-in-its-nascency glory: the legendary Wall of Cows. 

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